Is Kodak Bonkers?

Recently, Lexmark announced it will stop making inkjet printers. It is not a big surprise. We live a far more digital and mobile lifestyle than a few years ago—the need to print, copy and fax has diminished. Printers have been a dying product for some time. For years, the bundling of “buy a PC and get a free printer” was a sure sign that printers were on the decline. The need to lower price points necessitated more cheaply made products…yada yada, industry-in-decline.

For Lexmark shuttering its inkjet business will reportedly save it about $85 million next year, but cost 1,700 jobs in the process.

As an outsider, this appears to be a sound strategy. It also appears to reinforce my opinion that Kodak’s grand strategy to save itself from vanishing all together by going INTO the printing business is, for lack of a better word, “bonkers.” While Lexmark is running away from the inkjet business, Kodak has been trying to expand its business selling consumer and commercial inkjet printers. The company is trying to save itself after it filed for bankruptcy protection in January amid waning camera sales, the demise of the film business and a not-quite-as-expected sell-off of its patents. All along the way, its public strategy has been to focus on the printing business—even faced with the facts that its consumer inkjet printing business has yet to turn a profit. Bonkers.

Kodak was in the photographic film business—which died. They were in the digital camera business—which is on live-support. Their patents, said to be worth $billions?—not so much. And their only public strategy is to go full-force into another dying industry—printers.


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